Posts tagged Revolutionary Girl Utena
Posts tagged Revolutionary Girl Utena
In the previous post I mentioned how, after robot anime, I really like swordfight anime. Over on twitter, my friend Iknight noted how he doesn’t think animation handles swordfights as well as live-action.
I actually agree, which is why I value the small number of shows that do it well (or passably).
Star Driver 03 gives an example of how even when a show animates a swordfight with some fluidity, there are still things that we can view as problems. If one can imagine a continuum of swordfight anime similar to the real robot - super robot continuum, Star Driver (or at least the swordfight in this episode) would be in the super side of the line.
I would imagine Revolutionary Girl Utena to be somewhere in the super side of the line as well. In Utena’s case the finishing moves and their resolution do not resemble anything that happens in the physical world, not to mention the super powers of the sword, and the in-fight possession by the Prince over Utena.
In Star Driver everything seems fine if obviously stylized, until the Galactic Pretty-boy calls out his final attack, very much an anime/manga conceit.
It’s the ‘super’ part of anime sword fights that make me agree with Iknight (beyond limits of budget in making choreography fluid) that anime can’t handle sword fights as well as live action can. Of course, unless, one actually enjoys these super attack shenanigans.
(I dropped Sengoku Basara season two for this reason).
Lots of intelligent impressions re Star Driver, but I do notice that all the intelligent discourse I’ve read about it are skeptical at best.
It would seem that those who are genuinely fired up for this show did not use much of their critical faculties, or perhaps they’re/we’re the ones who aren’t particularly discerning.
Well, I loved it. I think it evokes some of the wild spirit of the creators’ past works (Ouran Host Club, Revolutionary Girl Utena) and I want to see a lot more of this. I want to hear more singing, I want to see more flamboyant fighting. I want to see a male version of the idol in a robot show.
The thing is, I don’t consume shows on the database level alone (I have SRW OG: The Inspector for that). Part of what attracts me to Star Driver is the ambition that I expect from it, given the pedigree of its creators. I want something transcendent!
Maybe it won’t be RahXephon, or Eureka SeveN, but I want it to be at least more enjoyable than Xam’d, and definitely better than Heroman and Wolf’s Rain among the shows I’ve seen in the Studio Bones filmography.
Yeah, George Honda did remind me of Saionji Kyouchi.
Something really interesting for me near the very end of the Black Rose Society arc (I’m watching Utena duel Mikage at this very moment). I was wondering how Utena finally figures in this arc in terms of her own motivation and purpose, so here we have it.
Utena is a hero, she stands for justice… as she imagines how her ‘prince’ must stand for justice (this is part of why she emulates him, or at least her ideal). While the Student Council arc was more about (in relation to Utena’s purpose and motive) setting Anthy free from the role of the Rose Bride in the midst of those who wish to possess her as such, and the Black Rose Society arc is more about protecting Anthy from those who wish to kill her, this is not quite it.
The injustice that Utena fights against is how the duelists she faced intend to kill Anthy as a result of manipulation. She believes these were not actions borne of free choice. Mikage is the culprit, and thus she challenged him herself.
Mikage argues however, that all these duelists acted on their free will. They were all there to ‘make their memories eternal.’ He only prepared a path for them to achieve their wishes.
Mikage too, wants to preserve his memories for eternity; and to do so is to kill Anthy and replace her with Mamiya as the Rose Bride. This is the same path he prepared for each of the duelists.
However, how does this exactly work for the duelists should they win? While I can easily imagine how it can work for Mikage, I don’t see how it could work for Wakaba and the others.
The question that Utena engages with swordplay is: Where does the responsibility of the duelists end, and where does Mikage’s own begin?
For me, both are at fault. However, Mikage is the evil one. How exactly? He values the welfare of the duelists very little. They are expendable to him. We know this for certain because he is responsible for the deaths of 100 students bearing the rose signet ring, to preserve his memories for eternity.
While I was pondering the futility of how the different ‘possessed’ duelists dashed themselves upon the fortifications of God-mode Utena, I was already problematizing how ‘unexciting’ these duels are since the ends were never in doubt…
Only that they were actually very exciting anyway, and that the result of the duel in terms of victory and loss never became the point. I only fully realized this on episode 21 when Keiko was fighting using Toga’s sword…
For the first time, killing the Rose Bride wasn’t the goal… contradictory to the purposes of the Black Rose Society that gave her the means to possess Toga’s sword in the first place.
The Black Rose Society arc is a litany of tragedies. It’s really very sad, pathetic, and rather dark. The prize in watching the duels is how the motivations are uttered out loud:
That’s the tragic structure, interestingly undermined by amnesia — which allows the arc to ‘progress’ in sequence; there are no lasting consequences. Rather, the consequences can be revealed with dramatic timing later on in the narrative in its entirety.